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April 19, 2014

Hartzok targets income disparity

— Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.

The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

“I think that’s a good description of my views,” said Hartzok.

She further explained her approach to politics by saying, “There’s a way beyond the old right and the old left.”

Hartzok is the only candidate seeking the Democratic Party nomination in this year’s race for Pennsylvania’s 9th district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She, along with two Republicans, Travis Schooley and Art Halvorson, are challenging U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, heading into the May 20 primary.

In 2001, as a member of the Green Party, Hartzok received 4.13 percent of the vote in a special election won by Shuster, shortly after his father, former U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, resigned. “I really got my feet wet (in 2001),” said Hartzok. “I’m confident in this campaign. I know what it takes.”

Hartzok is the founder and co-director of Earth Rights Institute, an organization with the goal of “securing a culture of peace and justice by establishing dynamic worldwide networks of persons of goodwill and special skill, promoting policies and programs which further democratic rights to common heritage resources, and building ecological communities,” according to its official website.

She has visited dozens of countries, including lecturing in Poland, Costa Rica, Kenya, Spain, Ireland and  Thailand.

Her book “The Earth Belongs to Everyone” received the

Radical Middle Newsletter’s Political Book Award in 2008, being described as an “ ‘idealistic’ book that’s grounded in sophisticated economic theory and impressive numbers-crunching.”

Her published articles include “Economics of War and Peace,” “Land for People, Not for Profit” and “Democracy, Earth Rights, and the Next Economy.”

One of Hartzok’s main areas of concern, throughout all of her work, is what she describes as wealth inequality.

“I do believe frankly that our democracy is hanging by a thread,” Hartzok said. “We never formed an economic democracy that matched the political democracy.”

Some of her pieces, such as “Citizens Dividends and Oil Resource Rents” and “The Alaska Permanent Fund: A Model of Resource Rents for Public Investment and Citizen Dividends,” examine how states and nations collect and distribute revenue from the extraction of natural resources.

In Alaska, oil money is placed into a fund that benefits state residents, including providing them with dividend checks.

Hartzok compared that program to Pennsylvania’s approach to the burgeoning Marcellus Shale natural gas industry. Pennsylvania currently imposes an impact fee, but it is the only state with significant natural gas production that does not collect a market- or revenue-based severance tax.

Hartzok supports the state implementing a royalty fee on the natural gas industry.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

9th district series

This is the first in a five-part, weekly series looking at the race in the 9th Congressional District.

Today: Alanna Hartzok

April 27: Travis Schooley

May 4: Art Halvorson

May 11: U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster

May 18: A final look at the candidates

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